Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, left, and new Jazz head coach Will Hardy, center, listen to Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge speak during a press conference to introduce Hardy at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
The Utah Jazz are a step ahead of their Western Conference competition in respect to offseason moves, according to ESPN’s latest NBA offseason grades.
Kevin Pelton handed the Jazz the lone A grade grade among Western Conference teams in his evaluation of how the offseason has gone so far.
Behind the Jazz, four other teams received a B+: the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs.
Peloton pointed to Utah going all-in on a rebuild — highlighted for now by the Rudy Gobert trade — contributed significantly to the Jazz’s grade.
“The Jazz would have been hard-pressed to improve the roster with multiple first-round picks committed in past trades, little young talent and a salary sheet in the luxury tax. Moving Gobert for massive value positions Utah to start a rebuild at a pick surplus rather than a deficit,” Pelton wrote.
The big question for Utah is, what’s next?
There has been plenty of speculation that Donovan Mitchell could be traded, with the New York Knicks reportedly having discussed trade options with the Jazz.
“There’s still plenty of work for the Jazz. If they don’t move Mitchell before the season, they’ll need to reshape a transitory roster to fill needs at small forward and center and address a surplus of contributors in the backcourt. A Mitchell trade would push Utah into the race for ping-pong balls, and with even more future picks in tow,” Pelton wrote.
The Athletic’s newest NBA power rankings illustrate just what the Jazz’s prospects look like in the short term, after they’ve gotten rid of Gobert and Royce O’Neale and are replacing departing head coach Quin Snyder with Will Hardy.
Zach Harper lists Utah at No. 23 in the power rankings under Tier 5, or teams on the outside of the postseason picture who are looking to make the playoffs through the play-in.
“They’re trending toward getting even worse,” Harper wrote, while suggesting that more moves, not just Mitchell, could be coming for the Jazz.
“Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanović will be on their way out if the Jazz can find assets for them. Danny Ainge is tearing this thing down and hoping to rebuild something similar or maybe even better than what he put together in Boston with this current team,” Harper wrote.
“The swap of Quin Snyder for Will Hardy on the sidelines will be a downgrade for now, but Hardy is very well-respected around the NBA. Now we just wonder when/if Donovan Mitchell gets moved and where he gets moved. If/when they do, No. 23 is going to be way too high for this Jazz team.”
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